Willie sells Cordoba stake at a loss

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am

Willie International Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed firm with a troubled past, has sold a stake in a subsidiary at a loss to a woman indirectly related to Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

On September 30, the company sold a 39.4 per cent stake in its previously fully owned subsidiary Cordoba Homes to Karen Lo Ki-yan for HK$450 million - a 25 per cent discount to Cordoba's net asset value - which resulted in a HK$90 million loss to Willie, the firm said in an announcement to the stock exchange.

Cordoba's assets include residential and commercial properties in Hong Kong, a 20-storey commercial building on the mainland, 'a yacht, artwork, paintings and a 10-carat diamond', said the statement.

Willie, which is involved in property investment, securities, money lending and energy, had a net profit of HK$135.75 million in the first half after consecutive losses from 2004 to last year.

Lo is a member of the family that controls the Vitasoy drinks empire and a sister of Sharen Lo, the wife of Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, the son of Stanley Ho.

From February 2005 to March 2008, Lo was vice-chairman of Hong Kong-listed Heritage International Holdings, which has been a shareholder in Willie since 2005 and now holds a 28 per cent stake in the company.

In November 2005, 99.6 per cent of Heritage independent shareholders voted against a plan to buy a property in Mount Kellett Road on The Peak from Lo for HK$73.8 million.

On February 10, 2006, Heritage was fined HK$15,000 by the Securities and Futures Commission for failing to inform the Hong Kong stock exchange about Heritage increasing its stake in Hong Kong-listed 139 Holdings, which is now called GR Vietnam Holdings.

In June 2006, the High Court allowed Fubon Bank (Hong Kong) to pursue a HK$235 million debt claim against Willie.

In that judgment, Mr Justice Anthony Rogers said Hong Kong's financial reputation and economic well-being were under threat.

In November last year, the SFC fined Willie chairman Henry Chuang Yueheng HK$350,000 for his involvement in the unauthorised withdrawal of more than HK$30 million in client securities held by Chung Nam Securities.

Willie has also conducted transactions with Hong Kong-listed Mascotte Holdings, which owns a 2.8 per cent interest in Willie.